Internet Use May Reduce Depression Among Seniors

The ability to easily reach out across the miles to family and friends through the internet has been found to reduce the probability of depression among retired older adults, according to a study published in the February 2014 Oxford Journals of Gerontology.

The probability of seniors suffering from depression associated social isolation was found to be reduced by about 33 per cent as a result of internet use.  By teaching seniors to use the internet; to write and receive emails, shop online, conduct research, play games, join Facebook or manage their own banking and track medical information, they are able to reach far beyond their circumstances.

The internet can connect seniors with extended family they otherwise might lose touch with or can be used to play brain games to stay sharp, keep up with news or start a geneaology project. Seeing regular pictures of grandchildren will give a anyone a lift on an otherwise difficult day and for those with limited mobility, the computer screen can be window into a much larger world.

For those teaching novice seniors the workings of a computer and the internet, remember to go slow and make a cheat sheet.  Start the first lessons off simply with how to log on and perhaps send an email.  Make sure you send regular emails to maintain interest and let family and friends know they can reach their loved one through social media or email.  Keep in mind any disabilities such as vision or hand dexterity and find a computer, possibly with a touch screen, that meets the needs of the user.    Don’t forget to review online security and remind older students of technology not to give out personal information.

A computer screen is no replacement for real world contact with people but it is one strategy which may help a growing aging population remain mentally active and less isolated in retirement and beyond.   The ability to access a community of support and shared interest though the internet may one way retirement residences and family caregivers can help reduce depression among older adults.